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They say you can buy anything in Cambodia... and NYC.
January 24, 2007 2:51 PM   Subscribe

The modern slave trade is thriving. The Dept of State estimates that 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are trafficked - brought across borders and forced to labor. Among them, DOS estimates, hundreds of thousands are minor children. Some of those children - as young as 5 years old - are being sold as slaves and kept in cages while they are raped and sold for sex, some servicing as many as 30 men a day. They are bought for as little as $10 from desperate parents. But all is not lost: Somaly Mam, a former child prostitute, is the Mother Theresa of Southeast Asian child prostitutes, using AFESIP as her vehicle for saving them. Glamour awarded her their Woman of the Year honor, and she has been lauded in other ways internationally. Cambodian sex traffickers weren't as happy with her, though - her opponents kidnapped her 14-year old daughter, held her hostage for days, and raped her. It's hard to be on the wrong side of this issue, but some advocates raise a few hackles by claiming legalized prostitution and porn contribute to sex trafficking and child prostitution. Sex trafficking, and child prostitution, is a sizeable problem in the US as well. Although trafficking is illegal in the US, combating trafficking is tough in part because victims often fear authorities, personal reprisals, harm to their families at home, or even deportation (although special visas - T visas - are available to them in certain circumstances). In Southeast Asia (and throughout the world), child sex tourism is even harder to stop.
posted by Amizu (41 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Be gentle - first FPP! Today's CNN article reminded me of this crazy issue, and I couldn't find much discussion of it on MeFi.
posted by Amizu at 2:52 PM on January 24, 2007


christ! i was about to let you be the focus of my anger over fpp that take up a mile of blue, and i keep seeing them here of late. more inside, more inside. put more inside! but i see you this is your first post so i'll just say, nice post.
posted by nola at 2:59 PM on January 24, 2007


But don't ever do it again.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:00 PM on January 24, 2007


Arrests of child sex tourists. From US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
posted by russilwvong at 3:14 PM on January 24, 2007


Very interesting post. Thank you. I personally don't care about long FPPs, but I'm a perpetrator of them myself.
posted by serazin at 3:16 PM on January 24, 2007


You know, it's amazing how many people I hear say in passing that slavery has been all but abolished in the modern world.
posted by SBMike at 3:21 PM on January 24, 2007


You know, it's amazing how many people I hear say in passing that slavery has been all but abolished in the modern world.

Exactly, and I appreciate having this handy compendium of links to toss at them. Thanks for the post. But yeah, "more inside" is your friend. And don't ever say "Be gentle - first FPP" again. But then, I guess you're not likely to, are you? Never mind.
posted by languagehat at 3:28 PM on January 24, 2007


Important and excellent post. More people should know about this.

It's not strictly the legalization of prostitution that creates a market for sex trafficking, it's the regulation:

Where prostitution is legalized, the price for sexual services includes medical examinations, brothel rent and registration fees. In efforts to circumvent these fees, a black market for prostitution emerges.

Sex slavery is the ugly reality behind movements which seek to outlaw child labor; working for Nike at $2 a day might suck, but this post surely demonstrates how much worse the alternative is. Not that sweatshops employ many 6-year-olds, but if anything will help those children and their families, it's more jobs.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:37 PM on January 24, 2007


I see stuff like this, and I think I might be OK with the instant and irreversible castration of every man everywhere, despite the cost to me. I see stuff like this, and I try to think of a commensurate deterrent to apply to all women everywhere, hell, including myself, just to be sure.

But it is really important to remember, before you take up the bolt-cutters, that dreadful sexual abuses are not new in the world, or even more common -- they are just better reported. That we in the modern Western world should have the expectation of going through our lives without being raped is progress.
posted by Methylviolet at 3:39 PM on January 24, 2007


I see stuff like this, and I think I might be OK with the instant and irreversible castration of every man everywhere, despite the cost to me.

How unselfish of you. You know who else embraced blanket punishments for huge groups of mostly innocent people? Yeah, you know.
posted by IronLizard at 3:57 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know who else embraced blanket punishments for huge groups of mostly innocent people?

Hint: See Ark, The.
posted by TypographicalError at 3:59 PM on January 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


This post reminds me of a story I heard on NPR a while back. Some googling leads me to believe it might have been centered around the director of Anonymously Yours because that film deals with the detail I recall so vividly: that an enslaved girl was sick or some other way unsuitable for the work and was sent to a leech farm as leech food, since leeches are a foodstuff. If anyone has more information about this particular abuse, I would love to be made more knowledgeable.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:59 PM on January 24, 2007


One can expect all the political parties and astroturfing orgs to jump over such issues, in a bid to buy consent and votes for cheap. Still, I bet the proposal will vary from illegalization, legalization, prohibition, moralization...a series of proposal that don't address the main issue:

Why should a man or a woman feel compelled to pay something to have sex.

The issue is the demand for _sex-business_ as opposed to ordinary, naturally occourring sex _for mutual pleasure_ or as as a display of _mutual affection_. Why does it exist ? How does it work ?

Once the cause(s) for this demand are discovered one could maybe offer a path to have satisfying sexual/social relations _naturally occour_ , so that the market itself will be deprived of the most of the demand component.

Some already advanced the "attack demand" argument in the past, attacking people who enjoy sex services as _immoral_ , forgetting that some provider of sex services are completely willing to provide such services and have other work options avaiable as well.

Other prefer to attack men crystal clear desires as opposed to less evident woman desire. Still, it's still the same old story, it seems there is little or no progress on this topic.

----

The issue of slavery itself is another issue , much more intolerable, imho, than wilful prostitution.
posted by elpapacito at 4:00 PM on January 24, 2007


elpapacito writes "The issue is the demand for _sex-business_ as opposed to ordinary, naturally occourring sex _for mutual pleasure_ or as as a display of _mutual affection_. Why does it exist ? How does it work ?"

Because it's simple and uncomplicated. Why do you go to McDonald's instead of making a burger at home? It's simpler, cheaper, and you know exactly what you're going to get.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:15 PM on January 24, 2007


The issue of slavery itself is another issue , much more intolerable, imho, than wilful prostitution.

Quite right, and it's not really relevant. This post is about desperate children being sold to pedophiles, not legitimate consenting adult sex-workers.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:16 PM on January 24, 2007


You know, I have to say that hearing about stuff like this makes me see John Brown's point. People who practice slavery should die. Painfully.
posted by unreason at 4:31 PM on January 24, 2007


That cages story on CNN, the third link? The worst thing I've read in... god dammit. I'm going to be physically ill. My mind can't handle this. Can a human being even recover from such a hell?

And yeah, I'm with unreason- it's stuff like this that ensures I'll never be enlightened or perfectly compassionate: slavers and sex traders and those who use their services should be tortured and killed, or at least just killed.
posted by hincandenza at 4:40 PM on January 24, 2007


Hint: See Ark, The.

Ummm, no. That's fiction, you see.

Back to the topic,

I had no idea this was so widespread. BTW, nice post Amizu.
posted by IronLizard at 4:42 PM on January 24, 2007


This might not be entirely fair to him, but Chris Hansen creeps me the fuck out. Anyone else?
posted by mr_roboto at 4:47 PM on January 24, 2007


I cannot even find adequate words to channel my feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration. Sometimes, a crime is so agonizingly horrific that it is tempting to dismiss it as an anomaly, a singular distortion within humanity that will collapse in upon itself someday because it does not seem possible that other human beings would allow the crime to perpetuate.

And sometimes, the crime is so unspeakable that people have difficulty rousing themselves to fight against it. To travel to these parts of the world, to see the ambivalence of those responsible for the trade, the children that suffer through unimaginable horror every day, and to watch fellow humans encouraging this slavery through their sponsorship, this must be akin to a glimpse into Hell. To see this side of humanity firsthand would be a huge psychological blow, causing damage that I don't believe many people would be able to recover from. I understand why individuals balk, paralyzed by a combination of outrage and disbelief. But this is why it is so important for this fight to be taken up by every person who possibly can.

If there is a glimmer of hope, it is because people continue to bring it up. So thank you for the post.
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:57 PM on January 24, 2007


Italy Arrests 2,000 in Human Trafficking

ROME Jan 24, 2007 (AP)— More than 2,000 people throughout Italy most of them foreign are accused of human trafficking following an investigation that uncovered minors and adults forced into prostitution and working in sweatshops, police said Wednesday...
posted by taosbat at 5:16 PM on January 24, 2007


> The issue is the demand for _sex-business_ as opposed to ordinary, naturally occourring sex _for mutual
> pleasure_ or as as a display of _mutual affection_. Why does it exist ? How does it work ?

Well, you could look at baboons to see how it would work in a simpler, more rational, naturally-occurring manner without all the gnarly complications introduced by humans. Baboons have a nice, rational, linear dominance hierarchy. Any adult male outranks any female. The tippy-top male baboon of the tribe gets to have sex with any female he wants, any time he wants. A male at the bottom of the ladder (adolescents, mostly) can only mount a female if no higher-ranking male objects and chases him away. And since some higher-ranking male always does object, basically low ranking males get no sex. Females have no say in the matter at all. A female is in estrus, the toughest male who wants her gets her.

Does that sound better than the bizarre, tortuous, convoluted sexual dance people indulge in?
posted by jfuller at 6:32 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of that amazing Lukas Moodysson film that came out a few years ago, Lilja 4-ever. I don't want to see it ever again as long as I live, but I'm glad I saw it once. If you want to get a sense of despair and hopelessness that women in this trade experience, check it out.
posted by lovejones at 6:56 PM on January 24, 2007


I see stuff like this, and I think I might be OK with the instant and irreversible castration of every man everywhere, despite the cost to me.

The cost to you? People like you are the reason we have wars.
posted by delmoi at 7:02 PM on January 24, 2007


Why do you go to McDonald's instead of making a burger at home?

Because it is the best possible for people that can't be bothered to wait 10 mins and are just concerned about stopping the hunger for a while.

And that analogy certainly works with a compulsive desire to have an orgasm, but still doesn't explain why a reproductive behavior that occours naturally and successfully with millions of people doesn't occour for others as well.

It's not about "why pay" , as it is clear that one can facilitate or obtain a transaction by offering something...it is "why not pay with sex" ..which should be the natural quid-pro-quo in a pleasure exchange.

Clearly if one can obtain sex without getting involved in any kind of relationship, that can be done, but why should one feel compelled to skip all the natural steps that would, probably, have more people satisfied ?

Something is throwing a wrench , maybe old sexual taboos, maybe an incomplete understanding of social/sexual dynamics.

Jfuller :Does that sound better than the bizarre, tortuous, convoluted sexual dance people indulge in?

Well we aren't baboons, even if we probably have a lot of genes in common.

Females have no say in the matter at all. A female is in estrus, the toughest male who wants her gets her.

And if it is fine with the female , that's ok. I doubt that the passive behavior of females implies a complete lack of choice. Also in other primates, if my memory serves, copulation is also used recreationally and not necessarily in an alpha-male context..meaning they fuck like rabbits cause they like to.

I think the humans have somehow manage to convolute the behaviors or maybe only have figured out the copulation parts, that is an -end- of a cycle-process.
posted by elpapacito at 7:03 PM on January 24, 2007


I was reading a back issue of National Geographic this past weekend, one article was dealing with exactly this issue.
link

Was even thinking of making a FPP about it, but got beat to the punch.
posted by edgeways at 7:05 PM on January 24, 2007


Great post, except for the utter nutbar Q&A session from CWA. I couldn't quite determine what it was saying, thanks to all the clumsy fumbling at my emotional buttons, however I think I learned that Democrats want to enslave your 14-year-old daughter and force her to sell herself on the street to filthy Mexican laborers because your husband weakly jerks off in the shower while fantasizing about Jenna Jameson.
posted by xthlc at 8:27 PM on January 24, 2007


It's not strictly the legalization of prostitution that creates a market for sex trafficking, it's the regulation

Gee, sounds like free-market libertarian assumptions talking. The regulations are a reflection of belief in right and wrong, which is valid.

Rather than making regulations, a solution, the problem, consider that people go into the odious and harmful "profession" of selling their bodies out of fuckedupedness and/or poverty, and in desperate hope they often risk an "opportunity" that does turn into a kind of slavery. There was a very nice book about the Eastern European sex slavery recently by Victor Malarek, "The Natashas: Inside the new global sex trade"(2005). Jaw dropping.
posted by Listener at 8:52 PM on January 24, 2007


Because it's simple and uncomplicated. Why do you go to McDonald's instead of making a burger at home? It's simpler, cheaper, and you know exactly what you're going to get.

Translation: Because you think what you're getting is good enough, because you don't know any better and you don't know the real cost of producing it, and you don't want to know.
posted by Listener at 8:55 PM on January 24, 2007


from xthlc's link The Democratic Party supports legalizing prostitution to end trafficking.

WTF? I'm speechless.
posted by IronLizard at 8:56 PM on January 24, 2007


Anyone mention "Disposable People" by Kevin Bales?

Good place to start on modern slavery. But most of us don't have to look that far for traces either.
posted by sarcasman at 10:47 PM on January 24, 2007


Ack. Horrible.....I used up what was left in my paypal account to donate to AFESIP. I wouldn't have known about them if not for this post, so your first post was a good one.

but yeah "more inside" but I nitpick, I nitpick....
posted by Salmonberry at 10:48 PM on January 24, 2007


Gee, sounds like free-market libertarian assumptions talking. The regulations are a reflection of belief in right and wrong, which is valid.

Rather than making regulations, a solution, the problem, consider that people go into the odious and harmful "profession" of selling their bodies out of fuckedupedness and/or poverty, and in desperate hope they often risk an "opportunity" that does turn into a kind of slavery.


I wonder if you would apply the same reasoning to the prohibition of drug use, another social ill which is made worse for being illegal.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 6:01 AM on January 25, 2007


I can see the libertarian pro-prostitution argument. Ye-e-es, a woman should have the right to do what she likes with her body. Ye-e-es, if she can rent out her upper reproductive tract as a surrogate mother, it isn't really different to rent out her lower reproductive tract as a prostitute. But. This is just worlds apart from the legalization of drugs.

I was trying to find out what happened with Jerry Albom, the doctor -- do any of you know whether he was charged? -- and found a pro-sex tourism website. Oy. "Such is the wickeness of man." I would love to believe that these are all FBI agents unknowingly baiting each other.

And, thank you Salmonberry, for the hint. Impotent cursing of the skies, or being part of the solution -- pick one.
posted by Methylviolet at 8:28 AM on January 25, 2007


Well, I think the pro-prostitution argument would be the idea that the worst ills of prostitution involve drugs, coercion, and hiding away people from any legal status or the law enforcement agencies (or said law enforcement having archaic and sexist attitudes that a woman doesn't deserve protection from violence or harm because she chose to be a prostitute). I.e., that a woman in control of her life has the right to do what she wants- but that pimps or others living off the avails of prostitution are part of the problem. You can't end prostitution, but if you recognize that some woman can be in the sex trade and still healthy and in control of themselves, you can focus your efforts on helping- not simply jailing- those who are not making a willful choice.

That said, someone noted up thread that legalization wouldn't stop this kind of thing, nor would it necessarily end the practice of sex slavery; crushingly, there will always be people who seem to have no problem with using another human being either to earn money or satisfy their temporal desires- even or possibly preferably at great cost to the individual being used! But I do believe that legalization could help throw the spotlight on the specific cases that are troublesome: if people could legally engage in prostitution, and regulation required licenses and regular checkups, and seek out normal legal and police help when things went wrong... it might make the edge cases we're horribly reading about here be all the more obvious and exposed. Immense effort should be expended to end slavery of all kinds, and certainly child and/or sex slavery- and that might be more possible if we stopped prosecuting harmless things like pot use or consenting sex trade workers.
posted by hincandenza at 9:48 AM on January 25, 2007


Slavery and the kiddie sex trade?

Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff didn't see any problem with this type of commerce.

Not so long as there was profit in it for them.

Let's start cleaning up close to home, shall we?

Also, think Rush Limbaugh, Viagra, and the Dominican Republic, (remember that little news story?) where 1 in 5 young girls are used as prostitutes.
posted by nofundy at 10:12 AM on January 25, 2007


christ! i was about to let you be the focus of my anger over fpp that take up a mile of blue, and i keep seeing them here of late. more inside, more inside. put more inside! but i see you this is your first post so i'll just say, nice post.

Live and learn! And no, I'll never apologize for my first FPP again!

posted by Amizu at 10:24 AM on January 25, 2007


Sometimes I think the only thing that'll really cure the world of this is incredibly detailed full-sensory VR -- holodecks, basically.
posted by pax digita at 12:18 PM on January 25, 2007


nofundy, I posted a while back about DeLay, Abramoff & Saipan.
posted by chunking express at 2:04 PM on January 25, 2007


Any studies done on the customers? Their numbers vs numbers of less insanely rapacious males? I'd really like to think they are a tiny minority, but then again, who knows? Anyone?

As to legality- governments have swung between legal and illegal at least since the times of the Romans. Doesn't seem to work very well either way.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:00 PM on January 25, 2007


The Law, Slaves and Jack Abramoff
posted by homunculus at 9:28 AM on February 14, 2007


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